Friday, 14 January 2022 12:05

NPA confirms parliament fire accused Zandile Mafe is set to apply for bail.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

@EsaAlexander.

The National Prosecuting Authority has confirmed that the alleged arsonist Zandile Mafe’s bail application will be heard on Saturday.

Last week, the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court ordered that Mafe undergo a 30 day mental observation at the Valkenberg Psychiatric Hospital. A report from district surgeon Dr Zelda van Tonder revealed that Mafe suffered from paranoid schizophrenia.

"The NPA can confirm that it has received a notice of motion for an urgent application for bail at the high court for Zandile Christmas Mafe at 11am tomorrow [Thursday],"said Western Cape NPA spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila.

The 49-year-old was arrested two weeks ago in connection with the blaze that gutted the Old Assembly Wing and the National Assembly of the buildings of Parliament.

Meanwhile a report by auditors BDO, which was apparently hidden from Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille, made damning findings about fire hazards at Parliament more than a year before a blaze gutted the National Assembly and Old Assembly wings of the legislature.

In August 2020, following a competitive tender process, the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure appointed an external auditing company, BDO, to conduct an independent assessment on the slow progress of Prestige refurbishment projects at Parliament.

This included the refurbishment of the NCOP building, including electrical installations, work on the Parliamentary Precinct, upgrades of office buildings, routine maintenance to Parliamentary Villages, and structural repairs to the Old Assembly Building.

BDO's final report was presented to the department in November 2020.

It made the following finding: "Ventilation system design and fire protection in the Precinct needs to be reviewed by a fire consultant."

This finding comes after a visit to the 90 Plein Street building, but the report stated: "This treatment plan should not be limited to 90 Plein Street, but also to all the other buildings in the Precinct."

Another finding of the report reads as follows: During the site visit to the NCOP building and Tuynhuys on 21 September, it was noted that Tuynhuys is not fitted with an automatic sprinkler system and that the NCOP building's sprinkler system has not been operational for some time. Although these buildings might already comply with the regulations as set out in SANS 10400-T:2011 (South African Bureau of Standards, 2014), it should be taken into consideration that the purpose of this code is to save lives, not buildings.

"As these buildings form part of the National Heritage and are National Key Points, contains significant amount of wood, it is concerning that there seems to be no automated fire systems in place to protect these buildings from destruction in case of fire."

"The fire protection system of the NCOP building's library appears to be state of the art, but it is doubtful if this system would be able to protect the library in case the building should catch fire.

Meanwhile the Democratic Alliance (DA) wants President Cyril Ramaphosa to fire De Lille with immediate effect over the Parliament fire.

The party’s Chief Whip Natasha Mazzone has de Lille of "covering up her complicity in the burning down of Parliament, by strenuously trying to stop the release of the independent audit report by BDO and insisting that it was 'irrelevant'."

Mazzone said de Lille was grossly negligent and failed as a government minister to maintain and protect a national key point adequately.